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Gordon Brown loves asset sales. The problem is he has been trying to sell the same assets for about 11 years. Today the prime minister put a “for sale” sign over the Tote, Royal Mint, student loans and local government property — the very same assets he has been trying to sell since first becoming chancellor. Take a look these extracts from a 1998 Treasury press release entitled “Investing in Britain”:
decisions on investments and existing assets will be taken on the basis of what delivers the public interest. What counts is what works. So there will be a programme of asset sales and additional investments financed by PFI arrangements;
One more New Labour guru admits the “third way” could lead to a job with the Tories. Will Hutton, author of The State We’re In, tells Public Servant that he’s willing to serve his country under any colour of government.
When I woke up this morning I thought I had time travelled back to April; when Alistair Darling promised to raise £16bn from asset sales. But no: the news on the radio was that Gordon Brown would promise to sell assets….and they would be worth £16bn.
So what has changed? I wrote only a week ago that the original Budget target was probably moonshine because it depended on councils volunteering to sell off their homes, offices, playing fields etc (what’s in it for them?). A vast £11bn of the £16bn is meant to come from local authorities.
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